Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Underwater Spider Spins Itself an Aqualung (sciencemag.org)
95 points by pwg on June 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

Whenever I read something like this I am uncomfortably reminded of how pathetically inadequate my tiny little human brain is for comprehending the vast infinity of the natural world, both on and off our planet.

Just yesterday I was reading an article intended to emphasise us puny humans' puniness by saying, basically, "One AU is 1cm. Now try to imagine ... 30km!!". OK, mind crashed, capacity exceeded, out of range exception. I can kinda sorta hold the first assumption in my brain. I can't hold the second.

Same with this spider and evolution. Hey, evolution, that's like when the roofs on the town buildings turned black with soot, and the white birds were more visible to predators and so darker birds were selected and after a few generations all the birds were black. Hey, I can understand that! Evolution! Yeah!

Now try to imagine ... a spider who - through some utterly incomprehensible series of inputs, forces, mutations, generations, selections, and no doubt thousands upon thousands of years - has managed to somehow end up instinctually constructing a working aqualung, which it then uses to live underwater 24/7. Crash! Stack limit exceeded, out of working space, buy a new computer please.

If only I could ..

Powers of Ten is a good way of visualising how large our universe is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fKBhvDjuy0

Brings a whole new visual (for me) to "As above, so below". Cool find, thanks.

Typically, when a computer crashes, it is due to invalid logic or input. Does it not occur to you that your inability to understand this spider's evolution might be a similar problem? That it might be a result of trying to make sense of something that really doesn't make sense?

could you link me to that article with the 1cm/30km thought experiment?

It's the Charlie Stross The High Frontier, Redux essay currently being discussed on HN in the Why we are unlikely to ever leave the solar system. thread:


I saw this newly added Netflix streaming documentary. I wonder if it is the same type of spider?

It is French, called Microcosmos.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact